Bridesmaid costs are exorbitant, to the degree that should you bribe the bride $1000 to pick someone else, you’d still quite possibly save money over what you would have spent. An Alternet essay, reprinted in Salon, makes the point that when participating in a friend’s special day has the potential to bankrupt you, the situation is ridiculous and needs to change.
Much has been written about the average cost of a wedding as well the average cost of being a bridesmaid. A 2012 study by TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com reported that the average wedding budget was $28,427 – the highest number it had reached since 2008. And Mint.com estimated in 2011 that the average total cost of being a bridesmaid totaled $1,695. … The Today Show reported that approximately 10 percent of people said they went into debt simply to attend or be in a wedding.
How does this enormous number come to be? There are the obvious factors: the dress, which can cost anywhere from $100 to more than $400; and then the alterations, which can add another $100 or more; and the shoes which can ring up as anything from $30 to $150. Then there are all of the events related to the wedding: the showers, of which there are usually more than one (along with the customary bridal shower, recipe and lingerie showers are now the norm). Then there’s the bachelorette party, which, for many, has evolved from a night of bar hopping to a destination event that involves airfare or gas, a hotel and several expensive days and nights at spas, restaurants and bars. Factor in manicures, pedicures, hair and makeup for the wedding itself and the total cost could easily exceed that $1,695 average.
Wouldn’t Prudie and the Ethicist be a good name for a band? Anyway. Someone wrote a letter to Slate’s Dear Prudence with a question that they should have pointed our way:
My good friend has found her mate after several failed relationships and is desperate to be married and start her family (tick tock). I am thrilled that she is engaged, and she has asked me to be in the wedding. I would normally be pleased to do so, except for one issue. She has debt of approximately $250,000 in credit cards and student loans, and she has not told her fiancé about this. I feel strongly that she is morally and ethically required to tell him before they are married, but she refuses. I can’t help but feel like an accomplice to her dishonesty by standing up in the wedding. What is the right thing to do? —Silent Accomplice
Prudie tells SA that she’s right to be squicked out: her “good” friend is perpetrating a fraud.
debt like this is something that simply must be revealed before two people wed. Keeping from your intended painful news, like a diagnosis of major illness, a previous incarceration, or the fact that you are dead broke (and not Hillary Clinton dead broke), means starting a life together based on an implicit lie.
Startlingly, Prudie does not suggest that SA write the clueless fiance an anonymous letter suggesting he follow the money. I wish we knew whether the bride were hiding financial truths from the groom or straight out lying. Either way, marriages have been based on deceit since the beginning of time. Years shaved off of ages, ex-wives forgotten, goats gone unaccounted for, paternity fudged. This can be seen as just another strike against the Wedding Industrial Complex, the societal idiocy that drives us to get married at all costs, often literally. Audits and prenups for all! Or don’t get married. That’s cool too.
Meanwhile, at the Ethicist’s lair …
One consequence of having friends for years is you get to see the changes that life brings. (Cue David Bowie ch-ch-ch-changes.) One of my best friends, playwright and performer Alexis Clements, is a lady who works hard, writes a ton, and explores widely. We met in 2000 while studying abroad in the Netherlands. We both liked to cook elaborate meals in hostel kitchens and traveled light. I was a poet and she was studying theater. In the time since then, she’s worked in museums & science institutions while exploring subjects as diverse as Ben Franklin, conversation, and pamphleteering in the greater New York area. In the mid-2000s, she moved to England and got a master’s in philosophy of science. Around the same time I went to grad school for poetry and dropped out after a year, afraid of the debt I was accruing.
Late in the summer of my thirty-first year, in the waning hours of my Kickstarter, I said something very foolish.
“If we reach $7,600,” I said aloud, “I will record a Firefly EP.”
That was only $600 over my last stretch goal, which was “to make a music video,” which was only $1,000 over my actual Kickstarted project, to record Giant Robot Album in a real Los Angeles recording studio with the band The Long Holidays.
It is now the summer of my thirty-third year. The Kickstarter rewards were sent out almost immediately after the Kickstarter got funded. Giant Robot Album was officially released on June 25, 2013. The Giant Robot Album music video, which I ended up making myself in iMovie because I had long spent all the Kickstarter money, went live on March 23, 2014.
Now, I’m spending my evenings sitting on the scrubbed-clean floor of my apartment bathroom, putting together a Firefly EP.
(Just so we’re all clear: by “Firefly EP” I mean “an EP containing original songs about characters from the popular-but-canceled television series Firefly.” Also, musicians record in bathrooms because the acoustics are good.)
Shonda Rhimes’ Dartmouth commencement speech just hit Medium. It’s ostensibly posted by Ms. Rhimes herself, which — I mean, I really want to break this down for a minute, she could have picked anywhere to post her speech, anywhere from HuffPo to The Atlantic to Kindle Singles, and she picked Medium? (Does Shonda Rhimes really need a gatekeeper-free publishing platform to share her message?)
Anyway, the speech is great, and the pull quote about “dreamers vs. doers” works, but to me, the most interesting part of the speech was the section that began:
Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means that I am failing in another area of my life.
That is the truth, right there.